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Royal Tokaji Essencia (500ML) 1999
New, it has whiplash flavors and off-the-chart acidity that can catch in your throat. As it mellows, it casts an almighty deposit, it turns a wonderful bright mahogany color and weaves an astonishing tapestry of flavors – of apricots, quinces, marmalade, butterscotch... 'So different from other wines' said one critic, 'that it is like seeing a new primary color'.
The first vintage of the "true" Royal Tokaji Essencia since the celebrated 1993, the 1999 Essencia is offered in a stately brass-hinged wooden box carved from Hungarian oak, lined with velvet and containing a hedonistic first – the indulgent Royal Tokaji Hungarian crystal sipping spoon. The spoon was designed exclusively for Royal Tokaji, enabling 33 sips per bottle – or 66 if you share your spoonful with a loved one. The back label bears the number of each bottle produced.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Quality production ended with World Wars I and II and the Communist takeover of Hungarian winemaking. Aszú grapes were used for mass production in factories, with vineyard distinctions lost in giant tanks. Tokaji's renaissance began after the collapse of communism with the Royal Tokaji Wine Company (RTWC) in 1989, inspired by well-known wine author, Hugh Johnson, and others. RTWC's founders started the winery in an effort to preserve what they considered a dying art. "I couldn't resist bringing back to life a wine that had been so renowned centuries ago," says Johnson.
Best known for lusciously sweet dessert wines but home to many distinctive dry whites and reds, Hungary is an exciting country at the crossroads of tradition and innovation. Mostly flat with a continental climate, Hungary is almost perfectly bisected by the Danube River (known here as the Duna), and contains Central Europe’s largest lake, Balaton. Soil types vary throughout the country but some of the best vines, particularly in Tokaji, are planted on mineral-rich volcanic soil.
Tokaji, Hungary’s most famous wine region, is home to the venerated botrytized sweet wine of the same name, produced from a blend of Furmint and Hárslevelű. Dry and semi-dry wines are also made in Tokaji, using the same varieties. Other native white varieties include the relatively aromatic and floral, Irsai Olivér, Cserszegi Fűszeres and Királyleányka, as well as the distinctively smoky and savory, Juhfark. Common red varieties include velvety, Pinot Noir-like Kadarka and juicy, easy-drinking Kékfrankos (known elsewhere as Blaufränkisch).
Apart from the classics, we find many regional gems of different styles.
Late harvest wines are probably the easiest to understand. Grapes are picked late so that sugars build up and residual sugar remains after the fermentation process. Ice wine, a style founded in Germany and there referred to as eiswein, is an extreme late harvest wine, produced from grapes frozen on the vine, and pressed while still frozen, resulting in a higher concentration of sugar. It is becoming a specialty of Canada as well, where it takes on the English name of ice wine.
Vin Santo, literally “holy wine,” is a Tuscan sweet wine made from drying the local white grapes Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia in the winery and not pressing until somewhere between November and March.